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No 'takers' for high school solar project

Published:Monday | August 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Andrew Harris, Gleaner Writer

A British chemist of Jamaican parentage hopes to sell his London home to cover the cost of financing a 100 kilowatt solar facility at a high school in St James but says he is being frustrated by a lack of interest.

Dr John Lennon, who claims to be a Clarendon College old boy, says he has dreams of creating and tapping into alternative energy sources to help reduce the cost of power on the island but says he has not been getting a warm reception from representatives of two schools to whom he would like to pitch his proposal.

Lennon, 49, told The Gleaner that he wanted to have the facility at a local school but it proved very hard to get past the secretaries at two St James high schools. He is now searching for a school that will be willing to accept his gift.

"When you are bearing gifts, you expect to be greeted, not searching for a recipient. With such inept, insular automatons employed in the public sector, there is little hope for Jamaica," a frustrated Lennon said.

Comon sense limited

"I knew that getting things done is particularly hard in Jamaica, but even when you want to give something, it is hard. Common sense and initiative seem in short supply." expressed Lennon.

Contacted last Friday, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell said he was hearing of the proposal for the first time. He said he is in favour of the idea and would make efforts to contact Lennon to see what could be done.

Lennon said he has since been contacted by the minister.

The Government has been touting the need to diversify the sources from which it gets energy. Schools, for example, have been targeted for solar projects, with the energy ministry recently announcing the planned installation of solar PV systems for 15 schools at a cost of more than $62 million.

The University of Technology and the Jamaica Public Service on July 10 formally commissioned a 100kW solar-energy system, which was done at a cost of US$308,000.

Lennon told The Gleaner that his London house could pay for a similar facility for a school here. He said that if he gets the go-ahead to construct a solar plant in Jamaica, his plan is to write to green philanthropists regarding raising funds to help finance the project.

He said he hopes that he will be able to start a movement in Jamaica where persons will be prepared to make similar investment in the country's future.